Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Sabbath, pt 2.

It might help to read On Sabbath, pt 1.

You see, His law is pretty basic: there are blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience.  We should be ever so grateful for grace that covers our failure to keep up with obedience, but His justice still stands - that when He commands us to obey, He expects us to do as we are told.

So when He reiterated to me: take a Sabbath, He wasn't just suggesting a nap, He was commanding me to rest.  God designed our bodies to need rest, because without it, we are weak and powerless.  To defy rest is to be rebellious, to declare with an unhealthy pride that we are strong and powerful on our own accord.  What a funny thought.  When have I ever been independently capable?

The realization of my fault had me evaluate everything that occupied my life.. Because I needed rest.
I was working too much and it was evident that my tendinitis had gotten worse.  I could not grip, I could feel "snaps" in my wrist.  My thumb turned blue, my elbows and wrists had noticeable inflammation.

This physical collapse happened two other times in my life:
The first time, in 2010, it affected my instrument playing, and because I did not rest, my ability to play music was taken from me.  It was good though; it taught me how to worship apart from music and song, how to be sincerest in heartfelt worship.

The second time, in 2012, it affected my ability to grip writing utensils, and because I did not rest, my ability to create art was taken from me.  This was also good; it taught me how to see beauty, and when I was well enough to create, my artistic style was solidified (something I felt I did not have before).

This spring was the third time, and I didn't want to be unwise.  If God is teaching me something, warning me about something, I want to be obedient and learn from His understanding.  I don't want to fall back into disability all over again, forced to learn the hard way.  Would my ability to serve be taken from me too?  Again, it had become imperative to re-evaluate my life.

So I looked at every card I have been dealt with.  Living in Hale Akua.  Working in the Coffee Bar.  Working in downtown.  A church I am planted in.  A family and friends I am in connection with.  A gentleman I am in a relationship with.  And if I had to surrender any one of these cards, I would feel the ache.  The situation would feel an ache, but we would all heal.  So the question now became: which of these things has God asked me to do, and which am I being overly-ambitious about?

I will spare you the comprehensive comparison of pros and cons.  In the end, I had to go back to the original purpose/calling of each situation, and asking God whether or not that purpose still continues, if it's been fulfilled, or if it has changed.  In the end, His purposes remain.

The view from the kitchen window, Kiana playing ukulele

The one card I kept returning to was living in Hale Akua.  The story numbs my flesh, awakens my spirit, and reminds me that God is living, and He speaks, and He moves, and He invites you to know His heart and join His journey.  But in light of that, He is actively speaking, and also, sometimes He tells you the end from the beginning.

When God called me into Hale Akua, He confirmed it with Scripture and provision.  But the truth is, God did tell me six months.  I suppose I dimmed that part out; I clicked the "Accept" button and didn't read the Terms of Use.  And I kept trying to stretch the call into month seven, month eight, month nine... and I struggled.  Sometimes people tell you you're struggling because it's a lesson on faith and trust.  But sometimes, you're struggling because you're in opposition to the will of the Master of the Universe.  There's blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience.  Sometimes you're struggling because you are outside the will of God.

But as my favorite quote goes:
You can step out of the will of God, but you can never step out of His promises.
And even though I struggled outside of the will of God, He never once abandoned or neglected me, never lashed in anger; but He waited patiently, and loved me, and prodded me.

I looked back at Genesis, in the passage that originally took me to Hale Akua:

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” - Genesis 28.20-22
I overlooked that one clause.  Return home.  And then I stayed in denial for some time, call it my pride to come home, and the fear of what people would say about me; that I failed or didn't accomplish some great feat.  "Missions" carries a different definition than what it did twenty years ago, but not everyone has adapted it.  I felt like a disappointment, like people expected better, or at least different from me.

The boys, pretending to sleep instead of homework

One could argue the level of "good" that Hale Akua does (and I nest "goodness" in quotation marks because what is good?).  This house is a keiki community house, open for the neighborhood kids.  But let's be real. I can't base a decision off of what is good, versus what is right.  Doing many good things is not always the right thing - that is, versus doing only some, even just one good thing.

And in the end, the "good thing" for me to do was to take a Sabbath rest, at home, in my father's house.


Would you like to know the biggest thing Hale Akua taught me?
That I am not ready to be a mom.
I chuckle every single time I recount that sentiment to myself.  It's not that I felt ready otherwise, it just made me appreciate and intercede more for single mothers, their mothers, who were struggling and needed homes like Hale Akua.  I worked nearly 50 hours a week, and came home to serve children who needed my love.  They don't know and didn't understand what my day was like. I can't expect their sympathies, but I can teach them to care in showing them care.  They needed selfless affection and unadulterated attention.  And I was too tired to be fully present.  Working, cooking, cleaning, forgetting the Sabbath.  It was absolutely off-balance.

Thankfully, the transition was peaceful.  Me leaving was the entry way for another to move in, who has a heart for these children and works with them on the daily.  There is joy on both ends, knowing that everyone is where God needs them to be.

So now, I am home.  I've had a bit of time to breathe, a lot more time to Sabbath.  And interestingly enough, after shutting that door, another one opened, because God is faithful.
But that story will be saved for another day.


currently listening: The Brilliance, self-titled.
currently reading: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mark Haddon
currently watching: Mona Lisa Smile. because it's a favorite.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Breathing Underwater

I built my house by the sea. Not on the sands, mind you; not on the shifting sand. And I built it of rock. A strong house by a strong sea. And we got well acquainted, the sea and I. Good neighbors.

Not that we spoke much.

We met in silences. Respectful, keeping our distance, but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.

Always, the fence of sand our barrier, always, the sand between. And then one day, and I still don’t know how it happened - the sea came. Without warning. Without welcome, even. Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine, less like the flow of water than the flow of blood. Slow, but coming. Slow, but flowing like an open wound. And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death. And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door. And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning. That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors, Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors, And you give your house for a coral castle, And you learn to breathe underwater.

-Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ from an unpublished work